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2015 Fantasy Player Profile: Michael Pineda

At age 16, I was worrying about chasing girls and figuring out what the latest fashion styles were. The Dominican flame-throwing phenom Michael Pineda was signing a professional contract with the Seattle Mariners.

After spending several seasons working his way through the minors, the towering 6-foot-7, 260-lb. Pineda made the Mariners’ rotation out of spring training in 2011 as the fifth starter.

He followed his major league debut with an electric April where he went 4-1 with a cool 2.01 ERA, earning him AL Rookie of the Month honors. Pineda was named to the All-Star Game as a replacement for Justin Verlander, and pitched a perfect inning.

The 2011 campaign is the largest and best snapshot we have of Pineda in the majors, as arm injuries unfortunately defined his next three seasons. In that season, he finished 9-10 in 171 innings with a 3.74 ERA and 173 K, which was good enough for fifth in AL Rookie of the Year voting, behind names like Jeremy Hellickson, Mark Trumbo, and now teammate Ivan Nova.

Next, let’s dissect Pineda’s 2014 and analyze what he has in store for this upcoming season.

What Can We Learn From Michael Pineda’s 2014 Season?

Pineda had a tumultuous season last year, highlighted by two pine-tar incidents and an elongated shoulder injury. Boston broadcasters first noticed a substance on the pitcher’s palm that appeared to be pine tar.

No action was taken regarding the issue, and Pineda told reporters after the game that the substance on his hand was merely dirt. A few weeks later, Red Sox manager John Farrell told the umpires about more pine tar around Pineda’s neck, and he was ejected from the contest and suspended 10 games.

Michael Pineda, Teres major muscle back

Teres Major Muscle, Wikipedia

During a bullpen session during the suspension, the Dominican hurler experienced some pain in his teres major muscle, an important muscle in the shoulder and back. This injury sidelined Pineda until August 13 when the Yankees activated him for duty.

Overall in 2014, Michael Pineda went a respectable 5-5 with a 1.89 ERA and a 0.83 WHIP in 76 innings. His W-L record is nothing extraordinary, but those other stats are awesome in his 13 starts last season.

Though his fastball has declined from its 94.7 MPH average in his rookie season, Pineda is throwing his slider more often (34.0% in 2014 vs. 31.5% in 2011) and with it, he is keeping batters off of their rhythm.

After his activation in mid-August, Pineda went at least five innings in each of his starts and didn’t give up more than 4 ER in any of those starts.

He had two fantastic starts in September: 7 IP, 0 ER, and 4 K against the playoff bound Kansas City Royals and later in the month, he went for 7.1 IP, only 1 hit, and 8 K in a shutout win against the AL East division champs Orioles. Even with the smallish sample size in 2014, there are some important peripherals to point out that suggest that Pineda can have an elite 2015 campaign and put the Yankees back in the playoffs.

The Yankees hurler exhibited flawless control over the course of the 2014 season, with a walk percentage of only 2.4%. His LOB percentage of nearly 81% and groundball percentage of 39.1% suggest that Pineda handles baserunners extremely well and can get out of jams easily, a situation that pitchers face all the time. Pineda does not give up home runs (about one every 17 innings) which is an important fact given his home ballpark is Yankee Stadium.

What to Hope For with Michael Pineda in 2014

In my humble opinion, I believe that Michael Pineda is poised for a great 2015 season if he can continue to master control of his pitches and stay off the disabled list.

Pineda figures to be in the middle of a young, emerging Yankees rotation with the likes of the aforementioned Nova, Masahiro Tanaka, and the flame-throwing Nate Eovaldi.

2015 Team Previews: AL East
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I think a reasonable floor for Pineda this season is a record somewhere around 10-8 with a 3.70 ERA and a 1.05 WHIP in 170 innings (numbers very similar to his rookie season).

However, with health and confidence, the sky is the limit for Pineda this year. It would be awesome to see what this guy can do with a full bill of health and 200-plus innings!

Floors aside, my personal predictions for Pineda this season are a 14-9 record, with a 3.30 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, and 180 K in the neighborhood of 190 innings.

There certainly is risk with owning the young Dominican, so I wouldn’t advise reaching for him on Draft Day. But, as the later rounds progress, I would recommend snagging Pineda as he should be a solid back-end piece to your rotation all season, barring injuries, of course.

My father is a Yankees fan, so given that and my overall baseball fandom, I’m pulling for Michael Pineda to have a great season!

Other Fantasy Baseball Player Profiles:

Michael Pineda Photo Credit: Keith Allison

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